UFT President Mulgrew calls for a fightback. We need words and action now.
The response to the Trump election coming from the AFT President Randi Weingarten and New York’s UFT President Michael Mulgrew are not from the same playbook. I have never been a fan of Mulgrew, but the two responses to the teacher union membership are strikingly different. Weingarten:”Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton understand working families” says Weingarten.
What the hell?
Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton understood working families have been left behind by a changing economy, punctuated by the last recession, and that anger is reflected in the results. While Hillary Clinton seems on track to win the popular vote, more people in more states trusted Donald Trump to bring the change they need than trusted Hillary.
Throughout this campaign, Donald Trump promised to fix the rigged economy. He promised to restore America’s middle class, to bring back the country’s manufacturing and industrial base, and to restore dignity and opportunity for Americans—values that we as trade unionists understand intimately. He said last night that he would bring the country together—something that is essential, given the bullying and bigotry unleashed in this election. And as unionists, we will work tirelessly to ensure that all people can reach for their dreams, economically, educationally and otherwise.
We believe deeply in our democracy. We accept the will of the people, and, as Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday, we owe President-elect Trump the chance to lead. We will also hold him accountable for the promises he made to restore the sense of greatness and opportunity that too many Americans feel they have lost, while at the same time we will continue the fight for everyone’s liberties.
As Hillary said yesterday morning, the American dream is big enough for everyone, and fighting for what’s right is worth it. She called on us not to lose faith, not to be discouraged, not to lose heart. As we work to restore economic opportunity and dignity, we must—and we will—stand up to the tides of intolerance. We will ensure that the vulnerable, the bullied and the forgotten are not targeted or abandoned; that our rights are preserved for all communities; that our democracy is not eclipsed; and that our movements and values—like labor, public education, access to healthcare, a clean environment, civil rights and so much more—are not forgotten or devastated.
Though heartbroken at this result, this was about economic change and a yearning for change, not an undermining of all things we hold dear like public schools. Across the country in local races—from ballot initiatives in Georgia and Massachusetts, to school boards in New Orleans and Corpus Christi, to levies that will support schools in Cincinnati, Cleveland and the San Francisco Community College District, to Proposition 55 in California and much more—voters chose to lift up and protect the institution of public education. Our members across the country worked hard not just for Hillary, but for their local schools, their hospitals, their public services—and many prevailed.
We poured our hopes, our energy and our hearts into this campaign to elect someone we believed would bring the change we do desperately need. It breaks our hearts that the Hillary Clinton we know and love was not the person so many voters saw. But our deep belief in our democracy, in the power of people together, in the cause of opportunity and justice, will compel us to come together to move forward, no matter the odds.
We will do what Americans have always done. We will pick ourselves up, extend a hand to our neighbors and our colleagues, and recommit ourselves to the task of fighting for an America where everyone has a fair chance; where no one is demonized, no one is excluded; and where we lift each other up rather than let anyone—even a president—push any of us down.
Meanwhile Mulgrew calls for a fightback.
“In the months and years ahead, we are going to face some of the greatest challenges that this union and its members have ever faced. There will be seismic policy shifts with Trump as president, both houses of Congress in Republican hands and the U.S. Supreme Court with a right-wing majority. We always try to work with people first but if they attack one of our core beliefs, we have no choice as a union but to fight. This is an opportunity for us to organize, both among our own members and with others in our communities.
How we fare in this battle will come down to the grit we have. We can draw strength from knowing that our fights have always been righteous fights. We will work with those who share our values — including parent and community groups and civil rights and immigrant rights associations — because we know we are more powerful when we stand together.
We must keep moving forward. Our families, our students and the communities we serve are depending on us. We will get through this together.”